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Three Killer Rotational Core Exercises

In aerial arts and pole we are frequently performing movement that requires us to rotate one section of the body. For example fan legs or handsprings in pole, a twisting downward dog in aerial yoga or a hip hang to back balance in the aerial hoop. Often we are using this rotation to transition from one move to another. Transitions, from a performance standpoint, need to be clean, in order to have clean transitions you need serious strength and control in the core. The major movers in rotational movement are the obliques, followed by the transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus and the lower back muscles.

Here are three effective strength moves that build oblique strength and help connect the rest of the core to the obliques.

Pillars aka T-Planks

This exercise is an awesome way to work on rotating the core and building the obliques. The pillar requires that the core muscles fire together and work to help the obliques rotate the torso. Any time you can get muscle groups working together in a movement that trains a real movement you will perform it is a good thing.

Begin in a Plank ( find out more about good form planks) and engage the core. Shift your weight into one arm and rotate to a side plank. Come onto the edges of the feet as you rotate (this is the easiest for balance). Keep the hips lifted and hold for 5 seconds, rotate with control back to a plank. Try the other side. Repeat 4 times on each side and build up your stamina to 8-10 reps on each side.

Superman Roll to Side Extension

This exercise is also amazing at teaching you to connect the entire core. This movement offers balance work and big work for the obliques. This move is hard and requires serious control and balance, just do your best.

Begin in a superman on your stomach, think more about extension then how high the legs and arms are lifted. Stay active in the low back and core, with control roll up to one side and attempt to lift the arms and legs upward off the floor. Balance and hold for 5 seconds and with control roll back to superman, then try the other side. Begin with 4 reps and build up to 8-10 reps on each side. If you cannot get the lower leg or arm off the ground, just make sure they are activated and extending.

Twist and Punch

This exercise is all about the trunk twist. Frequently students try to use the arm and shoulder to rotate the body and arm forward, but really this movement needs to come from the core, particularly the obliques.

Stand in a wide stance, with the toes pointed forward in the front foot. Keep the hips facing to the side, try not to let them rotate to face forward over the front toes. If it helps, think of the hips and lower body buried in sand. We want enough tension on the band to actively feel the obliques when we rotate. Punch through with the arm that is holding the band to rotate the rib cage only to face the front. The hips stay put, the rib cage rotates from the obliques. Begin with 3 sets of 10 on each side. If you do not feel this work in the obliques: 1. Put more tension on the band by stepping further away from the connection point, 2. Check in with your hips - are they rotating forward?, 3. Check in with the arms and upper back - are these muscle groups trying to take over the work for the obliques and core?

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